Harley Dealers Dress Up Their Bikes

Never underestimate the power of a Harley-Davidson. Andrea Ginsburg certainly doesn't. ''A guy came in here in October and said, 'I want that ''Fat Boy'' that's on the floor,' '' says Ms. Ginsburg, whose family operates Brunswick Harley-Davidson in this eastern New York town. The price: more than $19,000.

Even at such a typical eye-opening figure, demand for the motorcycles of America's lone motorcycle manufacturer remains strong. The trouble is that ''dozens of motorcycles we've sold were bought with the intention of resale for profit only,'' Ginsburg says.

''It's impossible to determine how many people are paying more for their motorcycles than suggested retail,'' says Ken Schmidt, spokesman for Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc.

To ward off such profiteers and build up the service end of the business, Harley dealers are dressing up their bikes before they hit the showroom floor. So a Fat Boy, as the bikes are nicknamed, that lists for $13,900 may roll out of the service area with $5,000 worth of chrome accessories already bolted on. Harley expects to increase production to 115,000 in 1996 after completing a multimillion-dollar expansion program.

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